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Poster: Lou Davenport Date: Mar 27, 2012 4:07pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Songs they didn't play without Mickey

It just occurred to me the other day that some of the songs that the boys resurrected in 1976 had been dropped from their repertoire around the beginning of 1971, when Mickey left. A few weeks ago, we’d been discussing the few shows when Bill hadn’t played, and how in one of them a fan called for Alligator and Jerry said they couldn’t play it because one of their drummers was broken. And indeed, the interlocking rhythms played by the drummers are pretty crucial to the sound of Alligator, so it makes sense that they would have played Alligator 8 times in 1970 but then only once after Mickey left (on 4/29/71).

This got me wondering whether the lack of a second drummer could account for any of the other songs they dropped from their repertoire. Here are the ones I think you could make the strongest case for:

Dancin’ in the Streets – 22 times in 1970 then only once on 12/31/71, and resurrected with 26 performances in 1976 and 13 in 1977

Cosmic Charlie – 15 times in 1970, 1/21/71, and resurrected with 6 performances in 1976

New Minglewood Blues – 10 times in 1970, 2/24/71, 4/29/71, and resurrected with 15 performances in 1976 and 34 in 1977

High Time – 25 times in 1970, and resurrected with 9 performances in 1976 and 3 in 1977

The interlocking drum rhythms during the Dancin’ in the Streets are prominent enough that I could understand them dropping it after Mickey left. Granted, the 1976 version was very different, but still. Interlocking drum rhythms are also pretty key to the sound of New Minglewood Blues. There’s less of them in Cosmic Charlie, but I could imagine them liking the powerful thrust of two drums to sustain the dirge-like rhythm.

The performance pattern of these songs doesn’t show as clear a link to Mickey’s absence, but enough of one that there may be something to it:

St Stephen – 32 times in 1970, 2/18/71 (Mickey’s last show), 11 more in 1971, then nothing till it’s resurrected with 12 performances in 1976 and 14 in 1977

Candyman – 41 times in 1970, 2/18/71 (Mickey’s last show), 1 more time in 1971, then just 12 total performances in 1972-1974 before they performed it 11 times in 1976 and 10 in 1977

Friend of the Devil – 35 times in 1970, 16 in Fall 1972, 4 in 1974, and resurrected with 13 performances in 1976, 20 in 1977, and 30 in 1978

Any thoughts on this? Or has this been obvious to you for years?

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Mar 27, 2012 9:15pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Songs they didn't play without Mickey

I dont see the case for FOTD, especially with its simple drumming. St. stephen and dancin make the most sense to me. Itd be nice to get answers to these examples, coincidence or a reason...?

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Mar 28, 2012 11:46am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Songs they didn't play without Mickey

I'm not sure about your thesis - can't really agree.
There are so many songs they dropped after 1970 - Viola Lee is one you didn't mention, which might fit, but I think they were pretty much through with it already.
Easy Wind was played only 3 times in 1971; they may have preferred the 2-drummer combo in that song with its tempo shifts.

But St Stephen they kept playing through Oct '71, even though it would seem to be the archetypal 2-drummer song.
High Time, I can't see how 2 drummers helps that song.
Cosmic Charlie & Minglewood, I'm skeptical that the Dead would drop these due to Mickey leaving. (In 1970 Cosmic Charlie was pretty much only played out of the Cryptical reprise - once the reprise got dropped in '71 in favor of Wharf Rat, Charlie went with it.)
Minglewood is an unusual case, because usually Weir's songs hung on forever.
Schoolgirl also got dropped in 1970. Dire Wolf was played only 2 times in '71. Deep Elem Blues, frequent in '70, was abruptly dropped in '71.
Even the most recent songs got dropped by 1971 - like Operator, Till the Morning Comes, Attics of My Life, New Speedway Boogie...
And some songs came & went for no apparent reason. Like Sittin' on Top of the World, which vanished in early 1971, came back for fall '71/spring '72, then disappeared again. Or Friend of the Devil, or Candyman, or Black Peter; or later on, Bird Song. Took them 3 years to put To Lay Me Down in the electric set. And so on...
The ways of the Dead were mysterious.
With their repertoire shifting so rapidly, I don't know if you can attribute much of it to the drummer change.

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Poster: ducats Date: Mar 27, 2012 4:54pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Songs they didn't play without Mickey

yeah i've been thinking the same thing for 30yrs

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Poster: Lou Davenport Date: Mar 27, 2012 7:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Songs they didn't play without Mickey

All of the songs I listed? Some of them? Any you think are just coincidences?

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Poster: cvenez Date: Mar 28, 2012 6:42am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Songs they didn't play without Mickey

Garcia has said in past interviews that they dropped St. Stephen and Cosmic Charlie because they were difficult songs to pull off live, especially the bridges in both tunes. In this 1986 video interview, around the 17:40 mark, Garcia talks about bringing back old songs and how he's mostly against it. He talks about Cosmic Charlie specifically around 19:30.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JOhtcJCjXA

I don't know about the rest of these songs. Of those listed, the only ones I can see benefitting from the two drummer arrangement are Dancing in the Street and Alligator. The rest of these songs don't require polyrhythm, in my opinion. Weir and Ratdog play Minglewood, Candyman, and FOTD with one drummer, for example.

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Poster: ducats Date: Mar 28, 2012 4:48pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Songs they didn't play without Mickey

i was kidding

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Poster: Lou Davenport Date: Mar 28, 2012 5:00pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Songs they didn't play without Mickey

Hey, you might have thought of it! I was surprised the idea had never occurred to me before, since I'd been struck for some time by the number of old songs they brought back into the repertoire in 1976--I had just never associated it with Mickey's return.

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Poster: adks12020 Date: Mar 28, 2012 6:37am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Songs they didn't play without Mickey

I could see it with Alligator but I personally think that songs like High Time, Candy Man, Friend of the Devil, New and Minglewood Blues all sound better with one drummer...which is why I find it surprising they didn't play them much without Mickey.

Personally, I think the slow Jerry ballads always sound best with very little percussion and bluesy numbers like Minglewood don't need two guys on drums.

There are really only a few only songs that really called for two drummers format: Samson & Delilah, Dancin', St. Stephen (maybe)....two drummers is cool but I really don't think it was ever necessary for the Dead. They just liked it and it helped beef up some of the jams.

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Poster: cvenez Date: Mar 28, 2012 10:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Songs they didn't play without Mickey

Agreed. I think it was more a matter of the Dead liking the sound of it. As Garcia said in their 1969 Playboy After Dark appearance, having two drummers made it sound like the music was chasing itself, similar to the serpent chasing its own tail.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx6OAfvlxTs

Personally I find the music with only Billy on drums to be much more interesting. It flows better and doesn't plod along or get weigthed down. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on with the drums/percussion when Mickey came back in 1976 but from 1977 on, the jams tend to be much more linear and less dynamic than they were from '72-74, at least to my ears.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Mar 28, 2012 5:32am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Songs they didn't play without Mickey

No idea myself, but that sounds like pretty good circumstantial evidence. I had no idea that interlocking rhythms were potentially key to some songs.

I'm not good at hearing what each drummer is doing except in a basic way. I can tell Bill's sound and Mickey's sound separately, or I think I can, and sometimes I can tell what's happening with the two drummers -- probably when it's most glaringly obvious to the rest of you, LOL -- but "interlocking rhythms" is beyond the complexity level of my musical knowledge! Cosmic Charlie makes sense intuitively, and Dancin, and Alligator, but I definitely wouldn't have thought of interlocking rhythms in Minglewood and High Times. That's neat to know. I'll listen for that now. Your level of knowledge always impresses me, Lou!